Falane Jones was with his uncle and visiting another relative at a Turlock apartment complex when he was shot four times in the face, neck and chest.
A Stanislaus County judge now has to decide whether there’s enough evidence to order two men to stand trial in connection with the death of the 37-year-old Turlock father who was gunned down earlier this year.
Devenae Price, 25, of Ceres is charged with murder and is accused of firing the gun that killed Jones. Kevin Barnes, 19, of Modesto is charged with being an accessory in Jones’ death. Testimony in a preliminary hearing for Price and Barnes ended Thursday afternoon.
Deputy District Attorney Meghan Anderson conceded that there’s no direct evidence that indicates Price killed Jones, but she said all the circumstantial evidence together “certainly paints the picture that Mr. Price is responsible for this homicide.”
The shooting occurred about 9:45 p.m. April 23 at the Villas Parkside apartments in the 300 block of West Hawkeye Avenue. Witnesses told investigators that a black car pulled into the parking lot of the complex.
One witness said a passenger with dreadlocks got out of the car, and the driver with shorter hair fired a gun at Jones from inside the black car. The witness told police that the passenger ran toward the apartments, and the black car pulled out of the parking lot and left.
The prosecutor told the judge that Price on April 23 was in possession of a black Lexus that matches the suspect vehicle description, and phone records show his cellphone traveled from the Bay Area to the area of the Turlock homicide around the time the shooting occurred.
Three days after the deadly shooting, an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy in San Leandro spotted Price in the black Lexus. The deputy tried to pull over the Lexus, which was straddling two lanes. The car failed to stop and a pursuit ensued.
The chase ended when Price crashed the vehicle into a home, according to authorities. Four people ran from the crashed vehicle. The deputies captured three of them, including Price, Kelley Trezvant of Modesto and Deanadranae Campbell of Livingston. Authorities believe Barnes also was in the Lexus but evaded capture and was arrested May 1 in San Francisco.
Trezvant and Campbell, the defendants’ girlfriends, were initially charged as accessories, but those charges were later dropped.
Criminalist Sarah Yoshida from the state Department of Justice lab in Ripon analyzed two expended bullet shell casings found at the Turlock homicide scene and two others found on the crashed Lexus. Yoshida testified that all four shell casings were fired from the same gun.
The expended shell casings collected from the San Leandro vehicle crash were found outside the vehicle where the hood and windshield meet. Yoshida testified that a Glock semi-automatic handgun found in the crashed vehicle was not the gun that fired the shell casings. The gun that killed Jones has not been recovered.
Robert Winston, Price’s attorney, argued that there was no witness who saw Price shoot Jones or identified him as the shooter by name. There was no evidence that Price was in the crashed Lexus, even though deputies found him shortly after the crash in a home’s backyard with an injured leg and without a shirt less than two blocks from the wreck.
Christopher Hudelson, Barnes’ attorney, argued that the accessory charge should be dropped. He told the judge that his client had no direct involvement in the fatal shooting; he got out of the car before shots were fired. Hudelson also said that witnesses saw his client being consoled after the shooting, while others had conflicting accounts about what he said.
Turlock police Detective Tim Redd testified that one witness heard the man with the dreadlocks tell others after the shooting, “No one call the cops.” The witness later identified Barnes as the man with the dreadlocks.
Superior Court Judge Marie Silveira wants to review some of the testimony and will make her ruling Tuesday. The defendants remain in custody at the county jail.